***February 5, 2023 NOTE***
In light of the upcoming Super Bowl LVII becoming the first Super Bowl with two starting Black quarterbacks, I have updated the numbers for the entire 2022 season, with Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts updated through the conference championship games. Super Bowl LVII will give the Eagles 378 games (regular season and playoffs) started by a Black quarterback, and Kansas City 95 games.
IMPORTANT: This is a living document that is now going on three years old. As such, it’s not meant to be read straight through, and there are elements that are outdated, typically labeled as “2021 update,” “2022 update,” etc. I’ll update more this offseason but I wanted to get the numbers up for the Super Bowl. If you see something that looks off, it just might not be updated yet.
What IS updated is the list below (marked “The List”) through the 2022 conference championship weekend. All team sections are updated by numbers of starts but not percentages or other things like that. If you are a journalist or other member of the media and you have a question for me about the numbers, DM me @readjack or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
***September 7, 2022 NOTE***
This article is about the numbers. Strip away the thousands of words below, and as I lay out in the introduction, the reason I started researching this in 2019 and published it in 2020 was to see the numbers — the team-by-team data around Black starting quarterbacks in the NFL. If you want to just explore the numbers, my spreadsheet is here, and I’ve added the list of teams in order, placed above the team-by-team writeups.
The spreadsheet is now updated with starts data through the 2021 season. As I noted a year ago, I suspect that the spreadsheet still has small errors here and there. I’m a team of one on this, manually pulling information into my spreadsheet from Pro Football Reference and checking it against newspaper reporting and other sources here and there.
I won’t be updating data through the season on any consistent schedule, so as always, if you want to use this piece as a source at any point in the 2022 season and need updated figures, please reach out to me at email@example.com or DM me on Twitter. Thank you!
I started this project in 2019 to put numbers to the feeling that many Bears fans had that the franchise did not want a Black franchise quarterback. But over the course of this project, the Bears have actually been one of the NFL’s more progressive franchises with regards to race. Toward the end of that list are the Dolphins, Broncos and Giants, the named defendants in coach Brian Flores’s historic 2022 discrimination lawsuit.
Flores’s suit is the latest puncture to the myth that just because talent is winning out for Black QBs on the field does not necessarily mean that NFL owners have turned a collective corner with regards to a century-worth of racist policies and personnel decisions. The Flores suit shined a light on racism in NFL coaching while, at the same time, more information and legal fallout around the NFL’s use of “race-norming” in its concussion settlement continued to build.
To me, those events — along with continued problematic scouting, as summarized by Bill Polian’s claim that Lamar Jackson should switch positions to wide receiver — are the reason why simply studying the basic data around Black quarterbacks remains important in 2022 even though on the surface, Black QBs today don’t appear to face the same levels of prejudice and restrictions as did their predecessors. This article is the continued, evolving study of these questions.
Lastly, rest in peace to Marlin Briscoe and Dwayne Haskins.
Continue reading “The complete history of Black NFL starting quarterbacks — ranked by franchise”